Sunday, March 27, 2011

7 months...Phew!

Well, it's been a while since I've written; I'm terrible at keep up with this. Goodness gracious where to start? I guess first and foremost I will start with the passing of a friend here in Korea. Her name was Yvonne, she was 29 years old, and she was from Whales. After she returned from the Philippines on vacation, she died from an infection that spread to her blood stream and she contracted septicemia. We were all shocked to hear the news and it all happened so fast. She will be greatly missed by all of us here. Please keep her friends and family in your thoughts.

Alrighty, let's see. Nothing really exciting has happened. This semester I'm teaching 3rd grade and 5th grade (last semester I taught 3rd and 4th) so it's a bit different. I miss teaching 4th grade but it worked out pretty well because I'm now teaching my old 4th grade students and they already know me and my teaching style. So that's pretty good. I've become more playful with the kids. They LOVE to play rock, scissors, paper...and once you play with one student they ALL want to play. It gets kind of crazy and we'll have like rock, scissors, paper wars. They're all really fun and I try to get them to use as much English as possible but I still can't have a conversation with them so that's kind of a bummer because I want to know more about them! I'll work on it some more. Also, this semester I have FOUR co-teachers instead of two so it's a bit strange because each teacher has a different teaching technique and they all have different ideas on how they want me to participate in the class. So far, so good. One of my co-teachers does not speak English as fluently as the others so he has decided that I will take over like 95% of the class. I have to say...I LOVE IT. I like to be in control of the entire class and not have to share time with another teacher. So, that being said, Thursdays are my favorite days to teach because I can teach those 3rd grade classes all on my own ;)
I haven't learned any new songs on my guitar...I still play but I just keep playing the same TWO songs over and over because I'm now too impatient to teach myself another song. I'm having trouble with strums...I thought I had rhythm but...apparently I don't. Lol. I also now have a keyboard so I'm going to be teaching myself some new songs on the piano here soon...I've got Adele on my list of artist's songs to learn. Then...maybe...I can do an open mic night here...yeah, we'll see about that. I'll have to work on building my courage there too!

A trip to Costco is in my schedule this week and I'm SUPER excited. I have some foods I've been craving and I can't get them anywhere but Costco. Like, for example, REAL pickles. Goodness, I have been CRAVING some real pickles. Korea likes to sweeten their pickles and I have to's no good. Korea got that one wrong. We'll need to fix that immediate. Costco...HERE I COME!

My sisters are coming to visit in May! I CANNOT WAIT! I am so excited to see them again. They'll be here for a couple of weeks and seriously, I would be happy with just sitting around watching movies and eating Ritz crackers with cheese and salami...just like we did on the holidays. I miss them sooo much and when they come, Korea better look out; the Stansfield sisters are going to show you how it's done!

It's been SEVEN months! Gosh that sounds strange. I've been away from home for SEVEN months. For the past few weeks I've hit a rough patch. I seriously went into a depression phase and stayed there for two weeks. I missed my sisters, I missed my friends, I missed my coworkers...EVERYTHING. I stayed in my apartment doing absolutely nothing for a couple of weeks...ugh. It took seven months for that phase to kick in...and it hit hard. I think I'm pretty much myself now...and I know I'll have another bout like that again while I'm away but hopefully it'll get easier. I mean...I think I'm staying for another year so I'll have to figure something out!

Alrighty...those are some updates for ya. Hopefully it won't be another several months before I write again!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Feast

November 29, 2010

Here are some updates. So my open class went very well! I was extremely satisfied with my performance and my co-teacher's performance. I think we knocked it out of the park! The observers also thought we did a pretty darn good job so that's definitely a relief. I can breathe now.

In honor of Thanksgiving, several of my friends and I decided to have a nice dinner with a turkey and all the other necessities that make up a typical Thanksgiving feast. We ordered a turkey package from Daegu Pockets for 100,000 won (equivalent to $100 which isn't that much when you split it between 13 people) that included the turkey, stuffing, gravy, and pumpkin pie. Everyone also brought food with them so we ended up with all of the above plus 3 small roasted chickens, pasta salad, regular salad, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, steamed carrots, dinner rolls, apple pie, 2 more pumpkin pies, fruit salad, and ice was DELICIOUS. The food was soooo good that almost everyone got seconds and even thirds. We all crowded around the table, sat on the floor, and just chilled out. I think it was a perfect alternative to having Thanksgiving at home. Sitting around with my new friends and having a good laugh with everyone.

I've recently found out that I will be able to take my 10 days off for winter vacation and I am actually going to Japan for the winter break! I'm super excited about that. Japan is a pretty expensive place to visit but my friend Gemma has a friend that is teaching there so we will have a free place to stay. This will most definitely help us save money for shopping and other activities! We're buying the tickets today so this is going to be set in stone here pretty soon!

My entire family decided not to do Christmas this year...kind of depressing BUT makes the most sense. So, my mother and I have talked it over and we came to the conclusion that since we're not going to give each other presents...the next best thing is to have some (lots) of soju and go sing at a karaoke bar...mind you this was not MY idea...ALL of this was my mother's idea. I'm definitely ready for this. She doesn't know this yet, but I'm going to take video...of her...intoxicated...and singing. Christmas, here we come! We're ready for ya!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Missin' the Music

November 12, 2010

Well, what’s new? A couple of things: I recently bought a guitar. Yes, a guitar. I’ve always wanted to learn and I figured, now’s the time to do it. I realized I was spending way too much money going out all the time so I need to channel my energy elsewhere. Music just so happened to be my chosen path. I didn’t think I would really miss my violin and piano but, I just gotta have music in my life. Mike and I went looking around this area where like EVERY store is a music store…literally you walk down the street and it’s like instrument central, 10 stores in a row along the street. Since I know NOTHING about guitars, Mike was definitely a big help. He basically went from shop to shop playing a bit on the guitars that he saw and I just watched him. We ended buying guitars from different stores because I was judging on the looks of the guitar and he was judging on the playability of the guitar. Lol, typical me. However, he did say that the guitar I picked was pretty darn good. I spent 200,000 won on it and the guitar came with a case, an extra set of strings, a pretty good tuner, a capo, and some picks. I think we did pretty well. Mike spent the same amount. SO, do I know how to play? Negative. Will I attempt to teach myself? Yes. We’ll see how long this shiny new toy will keep my interest. I hope it doesn’t end up in the corner of my apartment collecting dust. I mean, that was a pretty good amount of money for a pretty good quality guitar. Mike and I have decided that we will bring our guitars to school so that we can play after classes instead of just sitting at the computer doing nothing and falling asleep until we’re allowed to go home. We already had one mini jam session and I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’ve learned one song in pretty much one day. That’s pretty good right? It’s called “Giving Up” by Ingrid Michaelson. I’m even attempting to sing along…haha. Oh goodness. That’s a bit more difficult than I anticipated.

Ok, also, I’m going to get another tattoo. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m pretty much addicted to them now. I DID learn that tattoos are still ILLEGAL in Korea. Awesome. Of course they would be illegal when I actually want another one. Well, me and my friend Donny found a place called Tattoo Times Korea and they do tattoos for people; have been for quite a while. We saw their work and we were satisfied. Apparently, they are illegal and if the police hear about them they will be shut down…only to reopen at a different location shortly after. Ha. Ok. Anyways, so mine has been drawn up and I will see the final drawing sometime this weekend and probably get started towards the end of the month. It’s a bit different here because they will do the tattoo in 4-5 sittings! Back home, mine took about 2 and a half hours in one sitting. The worst part is…the price…are you ready? (Deep breath) 1.5 million won! I was a bit taken aback. HUH?! You’re going to charge me 1,000 dollars for this?! After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I realized that they are doing this illegally, they are going to take their time (I mean jeeze, 4-5 sittings at like 2-3 hours each?!) so…I’m going for it. Keep your fingers crossed. Also, it’s a large tattoo. It’s going to go from below my left hip bone and up to below my shoulder blade. I’m gonna be broke.

Last but not least. I have an open class scheduled for the 26th of this month. An open class is where other foreign teachers and other co-teachers from different schools come to observe your teaching. They sit in on an entire lesson and make notes regarding your teaching style and how you engage the class. I’m a bit nervous, I have to tell ya. I always get nervous when anyone is observing anything I’m doing. Especially when I can see them making notes and writing stuff down. Since I teach 3rd and 4th grade I decided that I would like for my open class to be one of my 3rd grade classes. I think this is the best choice because the 3rd graders know my teaching style and I get more teaching time with them. My fourth grade co-teacher does not let me get very much face-time with the kids so I’m more comfortable teaching the 3rd graders. My 3rd grade co-teacher, at first, was completely against my decision to use one of our third grade classes because she said “but my English is not good.” I was like “what?! They’re gonna be observing ME! Not you!” I literally had to persuade her to let me use a 3rd grade class…I was a bit upset because This is like super duper important to me and she was giving me some pushback. In the end…she agreed. Once again…keep your fingers crossed that none of the kids cry, scream, misbehave, or say cuss words. Two foreign teachers, my principal, my two vice principals, and two co-teachers from other schools will be evaluating…can you say STRESSFUL?!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Field Trips!

October 28, 2010

Yesterday I got the chance to go on a field trip with the fourth graders and teacher to Gyeongju ( There are over 300 fourth graders so we had like 12 charter buses for the trip and it only took about an hour to get there. However, we were a little delayed because the bus drivers decided to go for an unannounced pitstop and the head teacher was pretty angry about it (I just found out about this today). But the kids were able to get a bit of a refresher for the early morning and got some snacks for their lunches for later on. One of the kids bought me a coffee drink! I was like "Oh! No it's ok, you have it!" and the kid was like "no, teacher, teacher, for you, I don't drink coffee!" lol. So freakin cute. Me and Yooree decided to get some roasted potatoes with salt...pretty freakin good for the rest of the bus ride. By the way, the kids were surprisingly quiet on the way there...I remember if me and my classmates ever went on a field trip we were freakin loud as crap...the kids here are a little more behaved...

(Loading the buses)

When we got there, me and Yooree decided to hang back behind the kids so we could have a little bit of peace and quiet while we explored. We were able to see the ancient buildings and the Buddha statues. I couldn't take pictures of the Buddha statues though :( they wouldn't allow it. It was kind of funny because before the kids went into the village they were given a worksheet to fill out while they visited and they were all running around trying to find the answers lol. I remember those days. After walking around for about an hour it was time for lunch...a picnic! The kids all had their mats laid out on the grass and all scattered across the lawn in the middle of the park. I sat with the teachers which was nice because I never get to see them since every time I come into their classrooms to teach, they leave and it's just me and Yooree. I didn't understand what they were saying but I was able to get a feel for their personalities.

(some of the 4th grade teachers)

Also, I found it interesting that the parents for each class actually pack the lunches for the teachers! I mean, they literally brought no food and all of the food they had was from parents. It was AWESOME too. Kimbop, sushi rolls, loads of fruit and cherry tomatoes...mmm, mmm, good! And then, the kids kept coming up to me and giving me a taste of their food! I was like "no, no, it's ok, I'm ok, I'm full!" but they shoved it in my hands and ran away! ...It was freakin good though! Once the other students saw one student come and give me some food of theirs, all the other students ran up to me just to give me something of their own! Even if it was just a chip lol. Sooo cute! I then started trying to hand out some candies to them for halloween...major disaster. I could only get through 3 different classes before my bag broke because the student bombarded me! So...tomorrow I will bring the candy in a different bag and go one by one to the students lol.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Beautiful Busan and Halloween Candy

October 26, 2010

So, this past weekend, several of the foreign teachers decided to attend the Internation Fireworks Festival in Busan. Many of our friends decided to go on the Friday but a handful of us didn't make it down until Saturday. It was about 5:00PM by the time we got there and we met our friends on the beach where the fireworks were going to be displayed. Let me tell you, the show wasn't supposed to start until 8:00PM (we got there three hours before that) and there were already tons of people on the beach. You couldn't even see sand because people were camped out with their blankets on the beach. Thankfully our friends already reserved their spot and it was a big enough area for the rest of us to snuggle in.

For the next three hours we just chilled with soju and beer until it got dark. The fireworks were absolutely awesome. No other word for it. They did like an "around the world" type o theme so they had a different firework set for the countries. Needless to say...America's was the best. LOL. The finally was amazing. They had these fireworks that looked like birds flying over the crowd (I think you can see them in the video that I posted on Facebook), so we were like "whoa that's awesome," but then the bird things started spewing out sparklers...freakin awesome. I think what made the show even better was the fact that they utilized the bridge for a lot of the show and at one point it looked like there was a waterfall coming out of the bridge. Unreal. This video does not do it enough justice but you can get an idea of how cool this fireworks display was. After the show we all went out on the town for some standard shenanigans.

In the spirit of Halloween, I brought my kids some candy to class. I had smarties, jolly ranchers, and dum dums shipped from home to here so that I could give the kids some candy from the U.S. and they LOVED the smarties (thanks to Cale who shipped them over for me!) I literally ran out of smarties within the first two classes. They were all about some smarties. I'll remember that for Christmas time. Also, I forgot that I teach/see about 700 students...ran out of candy the first day (yesterday/Monday). Good job Nancy. So I went to Home Plus after school and I was a little upset that the candies like tootsie pops, tootsie rolls, snickers, etc. were pretty darn expensive. Yeah...and the amount that I bought was JUST enough for one more day. Just great. I will have to go to Home Plus AGAIN tonight. However, it's totally worth it. The kids love it soooo much because they usually just get stickers for being good and winning a game. The kids were super excited not only to get candy but by the fact that it was from/imported from America. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Catching up on growing up

October 18, 2010

Well goodness gracious it's certainly has been quite a while since I've updated my blog. I simply cannot believe it's already towards the end of October. I'm losing track of my days. On October ninth me along with several other foreign teachers decided to go to Global Gathering. It was held in Seoul, South Korea but it didn't take very long for the people located in Daegu to get there by train...maybe like three hours. Mike, Gems, Donnie, and I all arrived there about 1:00PM-ish and met up with others to eat before the concert.

I was honestly not exactly pumped about being at global gathering because the music they were going to be playing was techno, which I have never been interested in. My group of friends back home never listened to techno so this was definitely going to be an experience. Once we got there it reminded me of Vans Warped Tour that I went to many, many years ago in the way that the venue was laid out. There were three different stages that featured different electronic bands. It was a perfect day do have an outdoor concert like this...just beautiful. I have to say...I had a pretty darn good time. Mostly because I was in great company and several of my friends were there but also because the music is just fun to jump around to! I mean, literally you could really just jump around without a care in the world listening to the music and letting your body move to the rhythms. Pretty darn awesome. Fatboy Slim was the only band I'd heard of before this concert but the best ones were Armin Van Buuren and Justice...apparently they're pretty popular as well. I really liked their music, a new-found interest I'd say. The concert ended at 4:00am and our train was leaving at 6:30AMish so we all just stayed up, hung around the park until we had to make our way to the train station. By the time we got home it was about 9:00AM and I ended up just crashing at Gems because we were both extremely exhausted. Yes, we stayed up for a full day, 24 hours. I'm pretty proud of myself.

The next Tuesday, we decided to have a girls night out and see a ballet, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Now, because of my interests in music, dance, and performances I thought I would be really enthused about this ballet. It was good but I expected to like it more. I think I prefer to watch performances with dialogue and a storyline that is cut and dry instead of having to figure out what/who the characters were. I'm sure it would've helped had I done a tad bit of research on A Midsummer Night's Dream before actually seeing it...but either way...I think I would prefer different types of performances. It was a good show though, I think. It was a tad bit awkward at the curtain call, however, because the audience did not cease their clapping so the performers bowed literally like ten times. Typically the main performers will come out on the stage, bow, then they will give the others a turn at their bows...then all together come to the front of the stage, the entire cast will bow together, curtains close. Well, because the audience kept clapping...the performers ran through that sequence 10 times. It was very we left and they were still clapping (I don't think they really knew what to do and the dancers were also confused as the looks on their faces clearly displayed). Then we figured out that it was something with the lighting as well...the dancers did not get their cue to go off stage lol. Oh goodness.

Since then nothing too interesting. Since my mother moved out (yes, she was living with me in my shoebox apartment...) I really feel like an independent woman. It's very strange. Today I cleaned my entire apartment while doing two loads of laundry...who is this person? I'm glad we've decided to meet! Twenty-three years it took me to do my own laundry and clean. How insane is that? I have learned I'm not as dirty of a person as I (and my mother/sisters) thought I was. I don't like dirt on the floor or seeing dust bunnies anywhere in my apartment. When I was taking a shower, I even went so far as to take a dirty toothbrush and scrub some spots that I just couldn't look at anymore. So strange. I'm also quite comfortable with sitting in silence when I'm on the computer and such. I actually cooked some mandu today as well. Now, mind you, all I had to do was put a little cooking oil in the pan and throw those bad boys in...that's a MAJOR step forward for me. I DON'T cook. I kind of like not having someone do it for me for a change, I can do it myself and I'm completely fine with it. At least I know now that I will not live in a pigsty when I move back. Thank goodness.

Other than the fact that I've recently had to make a very difficult decision regarding my personal life (let's not get into the nitty-gritty details), everything is just grand. Life here moves a million miles an hour and I'm along for the ride. This next weekend several of us are going to the National Fireworks Festival in Busan and I'm pretty darn excited about that...maybe I'll get a new camera by then...

Also, I'm sick once again...yippee! :(

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Light bulb!

September 27th, 2010

Well today was definitely a little difficult because we just came back from a one week vacation...all of the teachers and students were noticeably tired...we all had "a case of the Mondays," (thanks Office Space). However, I was very proud of myself because I thought like a teacher and offered a great idea for the classroom lesson. The Monday before our holiday break (September 20th) my co-teacher and I were planning for today's lesson which is called "It's cold." There is a portion of the lesson designated for a game but the game provided in the book is very bland and quite frankly...well, boring. So she asked that I think of another activity/game that the kids can partake in with a little more excitement. There is a website that a lot of foreign teachers use for ideas called; this website is great for sharing ideas with other foreign teachers that are teaching the same lessons. I visited this site to get some ideas but didn't really like any of the games. At the last minute I thought it would be great to use a variation of the "pin the tail on the donkey" game that most of us are familiar with. My co-teacher had never heard of this game so I explained the basics and showed her a demonstration. Instead of a donkey we would utilize the picture of the girl in the text book, enlarge the picture and have articles of clothing that needed to be 'pinned' on the girl. There was a sweater, pants, gloves, and shoes. The class would be divided into two teams and one person from each team would have to be blindfolded, turn around three times, and try their best to pin the selected article of clothing on the girl. One person at a time will attempt and whoever is the closest to the correct spot wins/get's one point. So, today we tested my idea and it worked so well! The kids really got into it and really enjoyed it. We divided each class by boys and girls. Although it got pretty loud at was a major success and I have to say, I was very proud of myself. I'm starting to think like a teacher :)